Joseph Monroe Wilson, a former teacher at New Georgia Elementary School in Villa Rica, was indicted by a federal grand jury last week on charges of possessing child pornography. Wilson allegedly received sexually explicit images and movies of underage boys from a Canadian company.
Although it is unclear how officials obtained the information that prompted them to investigate Wilson, the United States Postal Inspection Service—along with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the Paulding County Sheriff’s Office—executed a federal search warrant at Wilson’s home in Dallas, Georgia in March 2012. Law enforcement officials allegedly found a picture of a young, naked male in one of Wilson’s closets in addition to numerous images of child erotica and child pornography on Wilson’s home computer. In the indictment, officials claimed Wilson ordered these materials in February and March of 2011. There were no allegations that Wilson assaulted any of the children included in the indictment.
After the school district learned of the investigation, Wilson was dismissed from his teaching position.
The indictment filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office charges Wilson with (1) the receipt of child pornography, which carries a mandatory minimum 5 years in prison with a maximum sentence of 20 years, and (2) possession of child pornography, which carries up to 10 years in prison.
A U.S. magistrate judge sent bond for Wilson at $150,000 with pretrial release requirements including house arrest, GPS monitoring, and a prohibition on interacting with children.
The primary focus of Wilson’s defense attorneys should be to scrutinize the steps taken by the agents to secure the search warrant for his residence. If the defense could successfully challenge the issuance of the search warrant, it could lead to the suppression of the computer evidence. The defense will also undoubtedly use a computer forensics expert to determine what evidence, if any, is contained on the hard drive to prove that Wilson knew he was possession of child pornography.
We successfully defended a former Carroll County teacher last year on charges that he sexually assaulted several female students. Like Wilson, our client was placed on administrative leave as a result of the investigation. After obtaining a dismissal of all charges against our client, we then successfully fought to keep his teaching certification intact. Assuming that Wilson is successful in the defense of these federal charges, he may also be able to retain his ability to teach in Georgia.
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